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Fire at Butcherie in Brookline sparked by careless disposal of cigarettes

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The fire that destroyed the storage area and caused nearly half a million dollars in damage at the Butcherie in Brookline was caused by careless disposal of cigarettes, fire officials said.

The blaze broke out about 3 p.m. Tuesday behind the popular kosher market and catering spot on Harvard Street, near Coolidge Corner. Employees said the storage area in the store's rear was used mostly for paper products.

Most of the damage, estimated to be between $400,000 and $500,000, come from smoke contamination of the store's perishable goods, which include wine, cheese, and kosher meat, Brookline Fire Department's acting chief of operations, Michael Sullivan, said.


No one was injured in the two-alarm blaze, which was quickly extinguished. A neighboring house also had fire damage.

Walter Gelerman, whose family has owned the store since 1972, said the store has a no-smoking policy inside, but because the blaze began outside, there is little he can do to prevent a similar incident in the future.

"It's hard to control what goes on outside — it could be anyone walking by," he said. "We just don't know."

The kitchen sustained the heaviest damage, while the retail area in front is undamaged, Gelerman said. The retail area will probably reopen in a few days, once employees finish throwing out smoke-damaged goods and cleaning up — firefighters combating the blaze broke through a door, he said.

The kitchen area will need to be redone completely and will probably not reopen for several more weeks. The store is fully insured.

In the meantime, Gelerman said, the community has rallied around the Butcherie, a popular spot for ready-to-eat meals and kosher specialties. A local store has offered to let the Butcherie use its kitchen, as has the Young Israel temple in Brookline.

Vivian Wang can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @vwang3.